That Time I Chose to Become Rachael C Marek

RCM4yrsIt was a little over four years ago when The Sis and I had a conversation.

We were living in Los Angeles, and I had been struggling for nearly a year to find a job.  No exaggeration, I sent out over 250 resumés and only received three responses in return.

I was miserable.  And while writing should’ve given me some solace, I was too concerned about finding paying work, so every time I was on the computer, I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing that.

I barely wrote a word that year.  One of the main reasons for moving to LA – for me to become a professional writer – and I was failing, spectacularly.

It was then The Sis and I had “the talk”.

She was making good money at her job, and she had already been supporting us, so instead of continuing on in such a futile manner, the definition of insanity, I should change tactics and do what I was meant to – write.

It took a little time to become accustomed to the idea that I was being given free reign to follow my dreams, but I realized that I probably wouldn’t have another opportunity like that again, and so Rachael C Marek was born.

I wanted to create a pseudonym, but I still wanted it to be me.  My name really is Rachael (Hi!), and the C is the beginning of one of my middle names, but the Marek, well, that’s thanks to a character I identified with in a book.  It seemed appropriate.

The above reminder popped up last week and it gave me reason to pause.  Had it really been four years since that pivotal moment?!  It made me wonder what I had accomplished in all that time.  I have some writing to show for it.  I still have big dreams.  I still have stories to rewrite, even more to tell…and although I may still be some distance from fulfilling my goal of being a professional writer, I’m in a better place overall and I think that a big part of that started when The Sis encouraged me to become Rachael C Marek.

She deserves a BIG Thank You for years of support of every variety.

And then there’s all of you.  You’ve been welcoming and encouraging, and although I’ve never met you, and maybe never will, we’ve been a part of each other’s journeys, the ups and the downs, and such a community is important to the lowly/lonely writer, so thanks.

xx, Rach

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Writing Prompt #108

Happy Writing Prompt Day!

It’s been a while since I posted a bit of inspiration, and today’s image struck me immediately.  That’s what I’m looking for when I choose an image for the day.

You come across this while walking along the beach, what does it say inside?

MessageInABottle

Don’t forget to share your creations, and Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted #23

Happy Wednesday!

First of all, I would like to thank and welcome my new followers!  I used to be much more active, but as life goes, there are only so many hours in a day.  I know.  Excuses.  Excuses.  On Wednesdays I used to regularly post Writing Prompts, and then (occasionally) I would post flash fiction pieces in response.  I’ve been otherwise occupied as of late, but I decided today I would revisit my old ways. 😉

I try to write in a stream of consciousness style – little forethought or editing.  Other than my fanfiction, which I write in a similar way, this is my only other “free from stress” writing.  My screenplays are written with such precision, that sometimes the fun of it is lost because every word has to be just right.

cottageHansel

He almost felt like a character from a fairytale. Wasn’t there one about kids following breadcrumbs? That’s what he had been doing for days, without even deciding to do it. He had entered the forest for a pleasant day’s walk amidst nature, but became compelled to seek this place out. He neither ate, nor slept. He could only walk.

The tiny house, surrounded by dark, still water and towering trees, despite its quaint nature, seemed oddly out of place. It was the only structure of its kind in the area; he hadn’t come across another in his travels. He was awash with tranquility, and yet, at the back of his mind, in the deepest recesses of his soul, he knew something was wrong, but he continued forward.

The dried leaves crunched under foot, alerting the lady of the house who appeared in the doorway like a shadow. She beckoned him, and he did as she commanded.

Tougher than the rest (campion)Oddly Familiar

Sadie had never been to New York City, but she imagined it must look something like this – buildings that extended to the sky, neon lights so bright it resembled day, and a limited view at what might lie beyond. Sadie enjoyed the mornings here; they were quiet, and the air smelled sweet, which seemed a contradiction all considering. Since this whole journey had begun, this was the only place they had visited that reminded her of Earth, and she found herself oddly comforted with just a hint of longing.

The strange winged creatures that slightly resembled birds were rather friendly and perched themselves upon her balcony. She spoke to them in hushed tones, whispering her secrets, her hopes, and her fears, like she used to with seashells she had found upon the beach. When they returned to her each morning, she found solace in the idea that perhaps they had carried away those thoughts and helped to lighten her burden; although not fighting harder to protect her sister was one she would never be free of, not until she found her.

~ * ~

If you’d like to create something from one of the 100+ Writing Prompts I’ve posted in the past, please be sure to either post a link to your page in the comments, or tag mine so I can see how you were inspired.

Happy Writing!

Rambling Review: Valerian

Valerian

I have a soft spot for Luc Besson’s films.  La Femme Nikita was my introduction to his work (thankfully, the intro was a good one), because there’s been the occasional let down, and yet I still get excited when I see his name attached.  Which is why I had high hopes for his latest project, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, aka France’s most expensive movie ever made, by a lot.

There was a lot of press on this film surrounding its release, and I remember Luc being unhappy with the state of the film industry at the time.  Other comic book stories translated to the screen had been dominating the scene, with some of them being overwhelmingly well received, while his comic book tale fell flat.  He felt his movie didn’t get its rightful due, not taking into consideration that maybe his film just wasn’t that good.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful to watch, but that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) compensate for a lack of story and boring characters.  I mean, when the lifeless portrayal of a shape shifting alien, played by Rihanna is one of the best performances, that’s saying something.  Because the movie is based on a comic series, I’m sure there were other stories to choose from, so I have to wonder, why did he choose this one?

Valerian offered us a glimpse into an amazing world, but the lack of a compelling introduction and the lack of interesting lead characters had me contemplating turning it off within the first 15 minutes, but I believed, and hoped, that sticking it out would lead to a satisfying end.  It did not.

Major Valerian played by Dane DeHaan and his partner Sergeant Laureline played by Cara Delevingne are basically special ops officers sent in to recover sensitive material in an illegal transaction.  They later learn that their mission was part of a cover up of a shameful military commander’s actions from years earlier – the decimation of a planet and its inhabitants.

PearlsKnown as Pearls, these beautiful, androgynous aliens, thought to be primitive because of their simple existence are nearly extinguished during a war they aren’t even a part of.  I think they’re the best part of the entire film.  We soon discover they’re basically geniuses, learning advanced math and science theories and practices in a matter of years not only to survive, but also because they wish to return to their way of life.  But as clichéd villains go, the ol’ commander doesn’t want any reminders of the past.

That’s the plot in a nutshell.

The side story is the uninteresting love connection they’re trying to force on us between the Major and the Sergeant.  There is absolutely no spark between the two leads.  Their performances, for me, were flat and dull.  Valerian, as we learn through a quick recap, is a womanizer, and most likely for sake of the film and in the hopes we’ll root for them, becomes fixated on his partner.  There is absolutely no cause for this other than their close proximity to one another.

Suddenly, he’s proposing, and that dominates nearly every conversation between them the rest of the movie.  Ugh.  And this coming from a romantic.

I was bitter that such a beautiful, overachieving movie would fall so flat, especially in such capable hands – those same hands are responsible for The Professional.  The advances in technology have allowed us unlimited potential in our imaginations in regards to translating that to the screen, and I think that Valerian relied too heavily upon this.  Enamored with their visuals, they forgot that some of us were paying attention to why we were there in the first place – the story.

Ah well, not every time out can be a winner.  Will I continue to support Luc and his visions?  Of course.  But whereas I was disappointed that I didn’t initially see this in theaters, I’ll probably weigh this endeavor against any future films and the feelings of immediacy at seeing it in theaters in way of support.

Twoandhalfstars

What I’ve learned recently is that when my expectations have been high, I’ve been disappointed, like 99% of the time.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised by films I had low expectations of, and that’s a sad truth to face, especially in light of the fact that I want to be a part of said industry.

Do you agree or disagree with my take on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets?  Share your thoughts below.

And Then There Went March

Happy-AnniversaryMarch marked the one year anniversary of a turning point in my life.  I had been struggling for some time before then.  I had been unemployed for ever so long, and a move to help us get back on our feet didn’t really garner us any reward.

Until March.

A former coworker recommended me for a job.  From how she talked about it, it was a good one.  And it was.  I was able to buy a car, start putting away for a savings, pay off some debt, and stop worrying about every penny (although, too long worrying about every penny has made me a bit of a miser).

And then I got promoted.

The money wasn’t as good (because any time you move from getting tips to not you’re going to feel it), but it created a path to doing something else, something more.  And I like it.  And I’m good at it.

My boss has become a friend, the work, while generally remaining the same from day to day, varies during events, and I’m meeting people in an industry I always thought would be fun to be a part of.  They’re kind and thoughtful – like on my birthday.  They bought me a cake and gathered around to sing.  Some of them even took me out to dinner and began planning a road trip to help me get my writing career on track.  See, thoughtful.

That’s the work-financial side of life.  The creative side finished the next chapter in the Dragon Age fan fiction series.  What started off as a simple Writing Prompt exercise has grown into 123,000+ words about a girl’s journey to save the world (while falling in love, of course).

The strange thing about fan fiction, for me anyway, is that because the characters aren’t mine, I just sort of write.  It’s freeing and uncomplicated, and that freedom led to a chapter of 41K words that I didn’t outline or plan.  I just wrote it, with very little forethought or editing, and it’s my most well received work on AO3.  And, it’s non-canonical.  So while yes, the characters aren’t mine (except for the protagonist), the story is and that’s a huge boost to my writing ego.

In my own work, I agonize over every word, so there are some days I may only write a page, and that’s a screenplay page – there’s a whole lotta white on those pages.

So March turned out to be pretty good.  I’m in a better place overall and that’s encouraging for the year ahead.

I hope you all are well and still reaching for your goals!

xx, Rach

The Not-So-Impending Birthday Blues

DW10Birthdaycard

My birthday is in three days.

((wince))

Ever since my 30th birthday, back in two-thousand and something or other, I’ve had a sort of distant, disinterested relationship with the celebration of my birth.  Honestly, there are a few people who chose to ruin the day versus letting it pass and ruining the following day, so after a few slights, I stopped looking forward to them.

They haven’t all been bad though.

And the last year, despite some rough spots, was pretty good overall, and even though the number associated with this year’s birthday is a strange number to admit to (like, I can’t really be this old, right?!), I’ve realized a few things that really only come with age.

  1. I don’t care if everyone likes me.
    • It used to bother me if I learned there was someone who didn’t like me.  Why? Because I’m a sweet princess, and what’s not to like? 😉  Then it was my goal to make them like me. That was then.  This is now.  There’s a woman at work, who thankfully, I don’t see very often.  She likes to be nice to my face and then talk a whole lotta nonsense behind my back.  And I’m not her only target.  She’s about 50, and I find this kind of behavior juvenile.  I say good morning when I see her, half the time she ignores me.  Fine.  Whatever.  I’m not going to stop being nice because she’s clearly petty and jealous.  Before I would have gone out of my way to win her favor, and now, I’ve realized some people just don’t deserve that kind of attention.  It’s a waste of my time, which is precious the older I get, and the refreshing thing is, it really doesn’t bother me.  What an odd thing to discover.
  2. I’m comfortable in my own skin.
    • While I feel I have a few pounds to shave off – I mean, almost everyone I know feels this way – I’m comfortable with who I am.  I’m 6′ tall, and I’m currently about 170 lbs.  Even when I was working out last year fairly consistently, the scale didn’t change.  Of course the distribution did, but I realized, like my age, it’s just a number.  I’ll never get back to my high school volleyball playing days, and I’ve accepted that.  Am I still holding on to that one pair of pants I’m striving to fit back into?  Uh, yeah.  Everyone woman I know has that pair, but I think we’re all hanging on to them out of some twisted sense of nostalgia.
  3. I let my geek flag fly.
    • I don’t think I was ever embarrassed to admit the nerdy or geeky things I liked as a kid (kids are fairly shameless, after all), but as with the natural progression from child to teen, the desire to fit in with the people whose opinions wouldn’t matter the moment we took that first step in the graduation processional seemed rather important in those early days.  Then geek became cool, a sort of badge of honor, and joining a fandom became an open door to making the kind of friends who not only understand you, but are the kind of friends you make for life.  Star Wars aside, saying you play video games or want to cosplay will draw out the kind of people you want to know.  Well, that is, if that’s your cup of tea.  I proudly admit to writing fan fiction and getting a geek tattoo with The Sis, and because I’m comfortable in my own skin and I don’t care what people think, I’m not embarrassed to admit to much anymore.
  4. I’m happy on my own.
    • I always thought, and intended, to get married and have a family.  It’s what you’re “supposed” to do.  But I was never fond of the whole dating thing.  And the older I got, the less inclined I was to follow in such a tradition.  Then, when I was about thirty, the man I was dating at the time, yes, one in the same who ruined my birthday, and I had a pregnancy scare.  As the title of my blog suggests, I have a terrible memory, but I remember that moment clearly, as if it happened last week. 😉  It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.  I was turned
      off to the whole relationship idea for years after; he was not a nice human being.  And then I got to a point where I had built a life I enjoyed, and knew it would take a special kind of person for me to want to mHiddles Bdayake room for them, and as of this post, I have yet to meet such a one.  (Except you, Hiddles.  I’d give up…hmm…well, we’ll have to talk about it. ;P)  Besides, two of my beloved icons, Elizabeth I and Jane Austen, never married.  Everyone still wants to set me up, but it’s nice that the stigma of the “spinster” has gone out the window and people accept me for the happy single I am.

So what does all this rambling mean?

Getting older has its benefits, and it’s a gift not afforded to everyone.

So, I’m not not looking forward to my birthday this year, in fact, I think I’ll do my best to embrace it.  There’s a lot to look forward to because I have BIG plans this year!

Ramble over.

xx, Rach

p.s. Thanks for being along for the journey!

Rambling Review – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

*Spoiler free review ahead.

Witcher 3

This “more than just a piece of eye candy” is Geralt of Rivia.  Swoon.  He’s from a fantasy land where once upon a time, a conjunction split the veil between worlds, allowing mystical creatures to spill into his.  In an effort to battle the “forces of evil”, the Witchers were created by terrible means, Geralt among them.

This 2015 Game of the Year winner has all the facets of well, everything, not just gaming, I’m drawn to – Medieval-like fantasy world, old world order of potential do-gooders, magic, sweeping backdrops with a rich, layered history – it was without fail that this would become my new favorite thing.

I was nearing the end of my first playthrough when for Christmas this year, The Sis bought me a series of books, and that’s when I learned a bit of the history of The Witcher.  I had no idea the game was based on novels by fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski.  The first book, The Last Wish was published in 1993.  That’s a long time to be clueless about something I was destined to love.  There are currently eight books in the series, three games, a failed Polish movie and tv series, and a new show by Netflix was just announced.  Now that could prove interesting as everyone is on the hunt for the next Game of Thrones-like series.

I started the game completely oblivious to the storyline as I had not played the previous two.  Not the best idea when the world you’re walking into is already so established.  Maybe it was because of this, I felt a bit of disconnect initially from Geralt.  I didn’t know who he was, where he had been, or why people hated him because he was a Witcher.  His purpose seemed like a good one.

There was war brewing on all fronts and with monsters running amok, no one seemed concerned with the other impending threat, the Wild Hunt.  Frightening, almost unstoppable warriors with skeletal armor from another world, the Wild Hunt appears with a frost that dramatically affects the world around them.  And these “things” were chasing after my (Geralt’s) ward-like daughter, Ciri.Ciri

The beautiful girl with an interesting background and the voice of a Dragon Age character (Hawke from DA2) immediately became my concern (and I do mean mine).  And that became the true purpose of the game – find and protect Ciri.

I had to force myself to play the game the first few times, which did not thrill me because I had been so excited to play after watching a trailer.  This one, specifically: (*Be forewarned that this includes content not suitable for all ages.)

After those initial attempts, I decided to just follow the main storyline objective and things became more clear.  I was still a bit lost when it came to matters of politics and the hatred towards witches and non-humans, but the further I delved into this world, the easier it became to navigate, and then suddenly, I was in love.

The game is beautiful and expansive.  Cut scenes are cinematic, and there are a lot of them.  Many times I felt like I was in a movie that I was lucky enough to be able to move around in.

*Helpful hint: Unlike some games, you can not put the controller down and walk away during conversations.  Often times there are timed responses, so you don’t want to lose out on that choice.

There were a number of comments made by people in-game who thought they knew who Geralt was.  I chose to make him more kind, almost out of spite because no one was going to talk about my boy like that in front of me and get away with it.  Also, in part because I always play the “nice guy” when morality meters are involved.  Sometimes we chose to fight, but sometimes we were merciful, giving our enemies reason to pause.  The more I played, the more I liked him.  The mutagens given to him as a boy to make him a Witcher made his hair turn white and stripped him of his outward emotion, but he has a good sense of humor, is loyal, and cares deeply.

As the game progressed, I learned why people both liked and feared him.  Witchers are considered freaks themselves, unnatural.  As a hired monster slayer known as the White Wolf, not only is he a fearsome warrior with a bloody reputation, he’s also known as being quite the womanizer.  There are a few women to romance in the game, and Geralt, looking the way he does and having women throwing themselves at him took each opportunity.  Although to be honest, I’m not sure how likely this all would have been back in 2007.  Thank the advances of technology!

Geralt's Gaming Versions

Helpful tip: Romancing multiple characters can bite you in the a** if you’re not careful. 

The witch in the trailer is Yennefer, Geralt’s long time, on again-off again lover. Triss She’s powerful and self-assured with a biting wit, and it’s easy to see why she and Geralt are continually drawn back to one another.  While she aligns herself with powerful allies, like kings and emperors, the adorable and sweet Triss Merigold is helping witches escape the fires as hunters close in.

There’s history with each of these women, and more of their pasts are divulged as the game continues, making it understandable why Geralt, and I, had a hard time choosing. 😉

There’s a great deal to discuss with this game.  There are many facets and intricate details that made this game so mesmerizing and engaging, but I will draw my rambling review to a close.  Perhaps in the near future I will post a Witcher Review: Part II.

Like Dragon Age, where your character’s decisions influence the world around you, I failed on occasion to complete certain side quests in a timely fashion and that ended up shaping the world for the better or worse (Eh, it was my first playthrough after all, and it’s all a learning curve.), but because of the immersive quality, this is a game that has definite replayability.  It’s a word.

If you enjoy the fantasy trope RPG, this will, without a doubt, speak to you…as it did me.  By far, one of the best games I’ve played.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It’s up near Dragon Age.  And now that I have a few books at my disposal, let the new obsession begin.

 

5stars

So, I’m smitten.  How about you, fellow gamers?  Have you played?  Let’s discuss!

Writing Prompt #107

It’s Writing Prompt Day!

In the continuing theme of inspiration, I offer you this:

Dark Forest, England

It is my goal to go back to previous prompts and start writing flash fictions again, so why don’t you join me? 😉 Be sure to link your creations in the comments or on your own page so we can all admire them!

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week for a New Year

Happy 2018, my friends!

It seems that I’ve had to “get back on track” a lot lately.  So, in (yet another) effort to do this, I’m going to start of this new year off right with one of my favorite quotes in the hopes that it will inspire.DoSomethingTodayEach step in the right direction, no matter how big or small, will draw us closer to where we want to be.

Wishing you a wonderful and productive New Year!  xx, Rach